Order a beer at the Cleveland ChopHouse, and the bartender will slide the glass onto an ice rail running the length of the bar to keep it chilled. The white tablecloths, exposed brick and big-band music are the right match for the award-winning Bohemian Pilsner. The ChopHouse and its sister brewpub, the Rock Bottom Brewery, are part of the same national chain, but they do serve beers exclusive to their Cleveland sites. Rock Bottom has the more laid-back vibe — it’s a place where diners can chow down on pizzas and burgers, shoot pool and play shuffleboard. Specialty brews are the crowd-pleasers, including the Black Double IPA, which debuted this fall in honor of the restaurant’s 13th anniversary.
Take it home: Both breweries have kegs and 64-ounce growlers to go.
Bryan Shimkos Brewer Cleveland ChopHouse and Brewery
Brew history: He has been a professional brew master for just more than four years, but honed his beer-making skills for years before that as a home brewer. One smart brewer: Shimkos was a Ph.D. student in Chicago when he had an abrupt and life-changing realization. “I just decided that standing in front of a lab bench and turning in a piece of paper with information as far as what I did that day wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do my whole life,” he reflects. Instead of scrapping his degree altogether Shimkos got his masters degree, and then began working in quality control at a local brewery. “I liked it so much I ended up going on to brew school at the Siebil Institute in Chicago and got my brewers degree.” What he likes most about brewing: “The most fun part for me is to see people drinking your beer and enjoying it. That’s what makes me happy about being a brewer. It’s when people can appreciate your product.” Favorite Suds: “I like a lot of strange beers. I like Lambics and Gooses which are sour beers out of Belgium … Anything like an IPA or a double IPA, I like.” He also likes the holiday season, but for a different reason than most. “This time of year is always nice because there are a lot of big, high-alcohol beers out like barley wines and whatnot, and I dig those as well.” Suggestions for the home brewer: “Enjoy what you do. And make sure you try to stay as microbiologically sound as possible. Then you will always have good beer.” — Nate Hoffman